What the Toyota 4Runner VSC Light Means (And What to Do if It’s On)

The Toyota 4Runner VSC light might turn on because your car’s stability control system is functioning normally—but it could also be a sign of deeper problems.
Written by John Davis
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If the VSC light turns on in your Toyota 4Runner, it might simply mean your vehicle’s stability control system is working as intended. If the light remains on for an extended period or additional lights turn on, you might need to take your 4Runner to the shop and let a mechanic check it out.
It can be frightening to see a new light pop up on the instrument panel, especially if strange noises or additional lights accompany it. However, these lights aren’t always a cause for concern, and sometimes, they just mean that your car’s systems are working correctly.
Luckily, the
car insurance
super app,
, is here to break down your car’s dash lights. In this article, we’ll explain what the VSC light means and how to fix it. And we’ll also discuss some ways you can save money on
Toyota 4Runner insurance
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What does the VSC light mean on a Toyota 4Runner?

The VSC light on your Toyota 4Runner stands for the vehicle stability control system. This system helps you maintain control of the car in slippery or steep conditions. It’s a type of traction control that works by automatically applying the brakes to certain wheels or decreasing the engine power.
Since 2012, the U.S. government has required all new cars to be built with these systems. However, this technology has been around since the 1980s. There are several warning lights related to these systems, but the VSC OFF and TRAC OFF lights are unique to Toyota and Lexus vehicles. 
The VSC light itself—which looks like a car with skid lines beneath it—isn’t technically a warning light. Instead, it illuminates when the VSC system activates. This will often happen when you’re driving in difficult or slippery conditions—like snow, heavy rain, or mud—and it simply means that your 4Runner is losing traction and the system is working to maintain it
However, if that light remains on even in normal driving conditions, or you see the VSC OFF or TRAC OFF lights appear, there’s probably a deeper issue at play. These latter lights indicate that the VSC system has been turned off, and they can be the result of a mechanical or electrical failure. Newer Toyota 4Runners also have a Check VSC System light—if you see this one, listen to it and take your car to the shop for inspection. 
The VSC system is closely connected to the engine and the anti-lock brake system (ABS), which can make it challenging to diagnose potential problems. Various issues, from a loose gas cap to a severe engine component failure, can cause the VSC system to malfunction—you might have even inadvertently turned it off yourself. 
Here is a list of some common causes of VSC issues in a Toyota 4Runner:
  • Problems with the brake system. Because the VSC system works so closely with the anti-lock brake system, any issues with the brake system can cause the VSC light to illuminate. 
  • Electrical or fuse problems. As an electrical system, VSC system problems can be the result of a blown fuse or faulty wiring harness. 
  • VSC turned off accidentally. You might have accidentally turned your car’s VSC off yourself. It’s simple to do and, luckily, it’s easy to fix!

VSC light and Check Engine light on

If your VSC light comes on with a
Check Engine light
, you might fear the worst—however, these lights aren’t always a sign of major problems. Here is a list of some common problems that can cause your VSC and Check Engine lights to turn on simultaneously:
  • Loose gas cap:$12 to $50 to replace
  • Faulty crankshaft position sensor: $125 to $220 to replace
  • Faulty camshaft position sensor:$250 to $350 to replace 
  • Bad oxygen sensor:$200 to $475 to replace
  • Bad catalytic converter:$1,800 to $2,000 to replace
If the VSC and Check Engine lights are both on and you can’t identify what’s causing the problem, the safest bet is to take your 4Runner to the Toyota dealership or an independent auto repair shop and let the experts diagnose the issue. You could pull the engine codes yourself using an OBDII scan tool, but basic scan tools lack the ability to perform complex diagnostic tests. The Toyota dealership, on the other hand, will have the tools required to safely and accurately diagnose whatever issue your 4Runner is facing. 

VSC light and ABS light on

Another common occurrence is the VSC and ABS lights turning on simultaneously. If this happens, you’re likely facing a brake issue that’s affecting the stability control system. Some of the common reasons these lights might turn on together include the following:
  • Blown ABS fuse:$80 to $100 to replace
  • Faulty brake pedal switch: $80 to $120 to replace
  • Wheel speed sensor damage: $350 to $415 to replace
  • Low brake fluid: $10 to $1,000 to fix, depending on the problem 
Any potential brake problem should be treated very seriously, as issues with the brake system can result in serious injury and can even be fatal. Additionally, if you allow these issues to go on for too long, the repair costs can begin to climb rapidly. 
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How to reset the VSC light on a Toyota 4Runner

If your VSC light is on because you or someone else accidentally turned the VSC off, fixing it should only take a few minutes. Resetting the VSC OFF or TRAC OFF light in your Toyota 4Runner is relatively simple. When you’re ready to begin, follow these steps:
  • Step 1:Put your 4Runner in Park.
  • Step 2:Locate the VSC button—it will be near the gear shifter or the steering wheel, depending on your car’s age.
  • Step 3:Press and hold down the VSC button for a few seconds. The VSC OFF and TRAC OFF lights should illuminate, signaling that both systems have been turned off.
  • Step 4:Press and hold the VSC button again until you see the lights turn off. Both systems should now be active.

Is it safe to drive a Toyota 4Runner with the VSC light on?

Generally, it is safe to drive your Toyota 4Runner with the VSC light on. The VSC system is a useful safety feature, but it is not essential to your car’s function and shouldn’t affect the vehicle’s performance, fuel economy, or emissions. However, if you know your VSC system is turned off, it’s important that you exercise extreme caution when driving in slippery or difficult conditions. 
There are, however, times when you should not drive with the VSC light on. Those special circumstances include:
  • When the Check Engine light is on. A Check Engine light doesn’t always mean something terrible is going on, and it can be caused by various issues unrelated to the VSC light. However, before you drive your car extensively, it’s worth getting the codes checked out to make sure it’s not something serious. 
  • When the ABS light is on. Driving with the ABS light on isn’t necessarily dangerous. However, you should exercise caution. These are vital safety features, and if there’s a chance one of them is malfunctioning, it’s best to get to the bottom of the issue quickly. 
  • When you experience strange noises or smells. If you notice any new and odd smells or sounds—like an engine misfire—and your VSC light is on, the wisest thing to do is take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. 
Taking your car to the professionals is always the safest bet. And if your 4Runner is still under warranty, you might be able to have the issue repaired for free at a dealership.

How to save on Toyota 4Runner insurance

You might have accidentally turned on your VSC light yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. A faulty VSC system can increase your chances of being in an accident, which could have the negative effect of raising your insurance rates. 
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